Helpful Hint: Preserving a partially consumed bottle of wine

By John ~ November 7th, 2008.

Since a standard wine bottle contains 750ml of wine which is equivalent to four or five glasses, there are many times that we find ourselves with partially consumed bottles. If you are single or the only wine drinker in your household, you may find yourself in this position even more often.

We never want wine to go to waste, so here are a few tips for preserving a partially consumed bottle of wine. Keep in mind that air and temperature are the two biggest enemies of an opened bottle of wine. So once you have opened a bottle and consumed a portion of it, you’ll want to close it back tightly with a bottle stopper to prevent more exposure to the air. Better yet, pour the remaining wine into a smaller sized empty wine bottle (such as a 375ml bottle that you keep around for that purpose) so that there won’t be as much air space between the wine and the stopper. If you want something a little more fancy-looking, smaller decanter sets are sold for this purpose as well. Some people recommend pumping the air out of the partial bottle with a vacuum wine saver gadget. However, I’ve heard winemakers caution against pumping saying you’ll lose wine aromas in the process; therefore, we do not pump.

Once you’ve solved the air issue as recommended above, put the partial bottle into the refrigerator until you want to consume the rest. Refrigeration slows down chemical reactions detrimental to the preservation of the wine. If it’s a red wine, pull it out of the refrigerator thirty minutes to an hour before you intend to consume it and the serving temperature should be about right. For a white wine, only ten to fifteen minutes out of the refrigerator will probably do the trick.

By following these tips, we’ve found that most wines will remain drinkable for as long as a week after first opening the bottle. (Note: These tips are meant to be used with your everyday wines. If you’ve forked over big bucks for a 1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, you should enjoy it with friends and family all in one sitting.)

What have you tried to preserve your partially opened bottles? How has it worked?

Filed under: Helpful Hint

Reader's Comments

  1. tony smith | November 7th, 2008 at 9:00 am

    I have purchased the platypus platy water bags from REI. I buy the 500ml bag and it allows me to squeeze out the excess air. These bags are pretty cheap. The biggest challenge is getting them clean. I wash them with hot water and soap and then i use a hydrogen peroxide solution to clean them further. The hardest part is getting them dry, and i haven’t quite figured out the best way to do that. Nalgene now makes these also but with a wider mouth. they are a little more money but might be worth it for the cleaning and drying ability with a wider opening.

    I put a half bottle of 2004 Quilceda Creek Red table wine in one and placed it back in my cellar fridge for about 2 weeks. When i opened it and drank it the wine was awesome. It actually was better than when i first opened it because it needed a little oxidation.


  2. John | November 7th, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I’ll have to admit that I have never heard of using the REI water bag for this purpose. I’ll have to check it out.

  3. Chris Lohman | November 8th, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I’ve tried the wine stopper that pulls air out, works wonderfully.

    But what I will try now per your post is storing the wine bottle in my fridge.

    Thanks for the great tip.

    Chris Lohman

  4. John | November 8th, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear the vacuum pump has worked well for you. I believe you will find that using the fridge will help them last even longer.